VERIFY: Is natural grass or artificial turf better for your backyard?
It’s not an easy yes or no as things like money, time and the environment all play a role in choosing between natural or artificial grass.
Almost half of the National Football League’s stadiums, including CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, use artificial or synthetic turf. That goes for the majority of college football and many high school stadiums as well.
But when it comes to your garden, is it better to use natural grass or artificial grass?
It’s not an easy yes or no, as things like money, time and the environment are at stake.
WHAT WE FOUND
When it comes to cost, the answer depends on time.
Similar to a hybrid car, you pay a lot more on the front end for artificial turf, but there is no upkeep. That means that after about seven years you will save money compared to having the family keep fertilizing, cutting, and watering their lawn to keep it green.
A well-known artificial turf company estimates that the cost of maintaining a 1,000-square-foot lawn over 25 years is between $ 10,000 and $ 15,000 for artificial turf and between $ 38,000 and $ 41,000 for natural grass.
However, the cost to the environment is immediate, even if your lawn is small itself.
“Your garden, if you put that across all of the US … you’re talking about a really big system,” said Dr. Sally Brown, a nationally renowned soil specialist at the University of Washington.
She added that the impact of replacing grass with turf doesn’t depend on the size of your lawn, but on how much the ecosystem depends on it.
“The soil underneath is usually very rich and very rich in carbon, and the soil is a great way to store carbon,” Brown said.
In addition to carbon, Brown said the very presence of grass helps worms, birds, air, and even water drainage systems.
She said that unless you live in a desert like Palm Springs, the small environmental benefits of artificial turf, such as never having to water it and never burning gas with a lawnmower or using pesticides, are easily outweighed by the environmental disadvantage.
“It’s not just that the artificial turf costs five tons of CO2 while the turf costs 4.7 tons of CO2,” Brown said. “It’s all the other benefits that come with a natural system, or at least one natural system over plastic.”
Regarding sports stadiums, many of which use artificial turf, Brown said their reliance on appearance and relatively small areal space makes their actual impact minimal.
When it comes to your home, artificial turf always looks good and you can save money in the long run. But when it comes to the environment we can verify that natural grass is the way to go.